Electricity and gas: Basic suppliers are almost always the cheapest option

The gas and electricity market remains very tense and volatile. In the cases examined, it is seldom worthwhile to switch from the basic service to a special contract. This is the result of a study by the Energy Market Observatory of the Federal Association of Consumer Organizations (vzbv). According to this, as of November 2022, the basic electricity supplier is always the cheapest option in 14 large cities surveyed and gas in 13 out of 14 cases. Households with an annual electricity consumption of 3,500 kWh should make the accounts with additional costs of 677 euros per year in the transition from the basic supply, with gas even 1,283 euros, with an annual consumption of 20,000 kWh.

“The price ranges between the cheapest offers on the market and the basic gas and electricity supply rates show that in this tense situation consumers should carefully check whether they are switching energy suppliers. The basic service fare is currently almost always the cheapest option in the major cities surveyed. Many energy suppliers have announced that they will raise their prices at the turn of the year. Consumers should take a closer look here and compare prices,” says Sabine Lund, head of energy market observation at vzbv.

There are also large price differences between cities for gas and electricity, according to the study. Although all the base gas suppliers considered raised their prices between January and November 2022, there is a wide range here. In Bremen, consumers had to accept price increases of 17%, in Leipzig 114%. Households with an annual consumption of 20,000 kWh would therefore have to reckon with annual additional costs of 243 euros (Bremen) or 2,056 euros (Leipzig).

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For electricity, a significantly different picture emerges. Five out of 14 basic suppliers even lowered their prices by 3 to 15%. With an annual electricity consumption of 3,500 kWh, this means annual savings of 33 euros (Nuremberg) or 155 euros (Frankfurt/M., Leipzig, Bremen, Munich). In Berlin and Hamburg, electricity prices remained almost unchanged compared to the beginning of the year. In the remaining seven cities, basic suppliers have raised electricity prices. Dortmund are the leader here with a surcharge of 25 percent or annual surcharges of 308 euros.

The federal government wants to relieve consumers of the sharp increase in energy costs. The Bundestag and the Bundesrat have given the go-ahead for the introduction of a brake on electricity and gas prices. A look at the gross exercise prices of the basic electricity providers examined in November shows that they are between 22 and 40 cents/kWh, with an average of 31 cents/kWh. For the gas suppliers examined, gross operating prices in November ranged between 8 and 19 cents/kWh, with an average of 12 cents/kWh. As a result, current average energy prices in the electricity sector are nine cents/kWh below the value set by the electricity price brake, and in the gas sector the average price is 12 cents/kWh and equal to the value of the brake gas price.

The vzbv expects further increases in energy prices in basic supply. Some of the basic electricity and gas suppliers examined have already announced price increases as of 1 January 2023. The vzbv requires municipalities, especially with above-average gas and electricity prices for private households, analyze and realize potential savings.

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Consumers should monitor price increases closely and seek advice if in doubt. Consumer advice centers can provide advice on this. For example, energy suppliers have to meet deadlines and are not allowed to raise prices for contractual price guarantees. A previous study by the vzbv has shown that price increases are not always executed correctly. The vzbv therefore repeatedly takes legal action against impermissible price increases.


The cheapest special tariffs (gross) were examined on the most visited comparison portals Check24 and Verivox, as well as the basic service tariffs (gross) in the 14 most populous cities in Germany with a population of more than 500,000: Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, Cologne, Frankfurt am Main, Stuttgart, Düsseldorf, Leipzig, Dortmund, Essen, Bremen, Dresden, Hanover and Nuremberg.

In order to be able to discover problems and complaints at an early stage, the Federation of German Consumer Organizations (vzbv) analyzes market developments in the areas of digital, energy and finance. To this end, market observation teams evaluate consumer complaints. With the results, the vzbv can initiate targeted measures to solve problems in the interests of consumers.


In this crisis, consumer advice centers are at the side of consumers with advice, information and representation of interests:
Energy crisis – Information and advice | Verbraucherzentrale.de.

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